The Franklin Park Zoo recently welcomed a new addition to its animal family, just in time for the holidays.
Veterinarians, wildlife and customs officials, and zoo staff were on hand early Friday morning to greet Inocencio, which is pronounced “Ino-sen-si-o,” a young pygmy hippo, when his plane touched down at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York early Friday morning. The animal was imported from the Parque Zoologico Buin Zoo in Chile where he was born. While field research is underway – supported by both USFWS and Zoo New England – an accurate count on pygmy hippo numbers in the wild is not currently known.
Inocencio is now safely settled at his new home at Zoo New England’s Franklin Park Zoo in Boston, Mass. In the interest of conserving the species, the hope is that he’ll breed with a female pygmy hippo, Cleopatra, already residing in the zoo’s tropical forest exhibit.
Zoos and wildlife agencies participate in international species survival plans, which include breeding programs designed to maintain genetic diversity and overall health of threatened and endangered animals held in captivity. The North American captive pygmy hippo population is small — with only about 61 individuals — and highly skewed toward females, so Incencio is crucial to the effort to create a self-sustaining population.
When Inocencio arrived at JFK, U.S. Customs and Border Protection Agriculture Specialists along with veterinary and wildlife inspectors were there to examine him to make sure he was in good health, and to make sure that his importation paperwork was in order. Animals are imported in compliance with several laws and regulations regarding humane care, international transportation, and wildlife protection.
Inocencio arrived safely at the Franklin Park Zoo on Friday afternoon, just in time for Christmas and his second birthday on December 28.